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Man suspected in deadly officer shooting recently paroled

Updated: 09/04/2014 10:04 PM
Created: 09/04/2014 12:45 PM WHEC.com
By: Berkeley Brean

We are learning new details about the accused gunman in a shooting that took the life of a police officer. We have learned he was released on parole just last month.

Thomas Johnson III’s family tells us he is the man suspected of fatally shooting Officer Daryl Pierson last night during a police pursuit.

Monroe County District Attorney Sandra Doorley said, "He was a parole absconder which means he wasn’t reporting back to parole and wasn’t where he should have been.”

Four years ago, Thomas Johnson was arrested for second-degree robbery. He attacked a man from behind, said he had a gun and got away with his wallet. Five months later, he pleaded guilty to attempted robbery and got only three years in prison.

Doorley said she’s looking into why the plea deal was given to a man with such a criminal history.

According to the Department of Corrections, Johnson served only two years of his three year sentence, based on good behavior and time served while he awaited sentencing. Doorley, who was not the District Attorney at the time, said she would have opposed his release.

She said, “I think if someone is sentenced to three years, and that is what the judge issues, then that person should serve every moment of those three years.”

Earlier today, we spoke with Johnson’s aunt and cousin. Police surrounded their home on Whitney Street last night after the shooting.

“I was in my room and all I know is a huge bright light was in my window.” Shaine Johnson is his cousin. She says he moved here from Florida after he got out of prison there. He listed her home as his address but never really lived here.

Berkeley Brean: “Did you ever know him as somebody who would shoot a police officer?”
Shaine Johnson: “Never. Never would I have thought that. Now somebody else off the street? Maybe. But a police officer? Never.”

His aunt believes something else.

Berkeley Brean: “Are you surprised that he is accused of doing something like that?”
Helen Johnson: Honestly, no.”
Brean: “Why not?”
Johnson: “Because out in the streets, I actually told him to go back home to Florida. Go home. I wrote him about two months ago when he was in prison that when he got released, got paroled, go home. Because out here I knew, hanging with the wrong crowd, I knew.”

Berkeley Brean: “Do you know how he's doing gun the hospital right now? Are you able to find that out?"
Shaine Johnson “Um no. And I really don't care.”
Brean: “You don't care how he's doing?”
Johnson: “No I don't. We feel for the family that lost their loved one. Because we've lost loved ones and we understand the pain and the hurt that it causes, not only just that he was a police officer but he was a father and a husband.”

We looked into Johnson’s background in Florida where he grew up. We found a felony weapons arrest in 2003, a felony burglary arrest in 2002, two felony arrests within two months of each other in 1997 and a m misdemeanor in 1996.



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